TORONTO – Danny Califf provides Toronto FC with experience and ability at center back, filling an obvious need.
But the 32-year-old brings more. Another reason the Reds took him in the Re-Entry Draft from Chivas USA was to be part of a culture change at the club by providing leadership and guidance to the younger players.
“I’m not a rah-rah guy, I’m not the guy in the locker room that’s screaming,” Califf said recently during training in Toronto before the team left for Orlando. “I’m more of a lead-by-example type of guy.”
Califf has been influenced by the way he was treated as a young player. He remembers how much defender Robin Fraser helped him when he started in the league with the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2000.
“I played next to Robin Fraser and him just being an incredible person and just kind letting me be me,” Califf said. “He kind of let me have my own personality but at the same time he kind of held my hand like a little kid, you should probably do this, why don’t we work on this.”
Califf was impressed with the patience shown him from such established player and he has learned from it.
“He was never condescending ,”he said. “He took me under his wing and he always treated with a tremendous amount of respect. He’s probably one f the biggest role models that I’ve had.”
And that is the approach Califf tries to take with younger players. “I think in order to be successful you have to be comfortable, you have to be who you are,” he said. “That’s one of the things that I appreciated the most [about Fraser].
“I think that’s how I try and go about trying to bring the young guys along, letting them be themselves but at the same time letting them know there’s a standard that needs to be upheld and this is how you have to be a pro without being preachy or anything like that.”
On the pitch, Califf will be teamed in the center of the Reds defense with Republic of Ireland international Darren O’Dea. They are getting to know each other during preseason training.
“I’m just excited to get out and get some trainings under my belt with him,” Califf said. “Hopefully we can we can form a good partnership, a partnership where we can feel comfortable with each other, verbally and non-verbally and just develop a relationship. I think it’s one of the most important relationships that you can have on the team is between the two center backs.”